Sonohyan-utaki, Naha

Sonohyan-utaki, Naha

Sonohyan-utaki is a sacred grove of trees and plants of the traditional indigenous Ryukyuan religion. It is located on the grounds ofShuri Castle in Naha, Okinawa, a few paces away from the Shureimon castle gate. The utaki, or more specifically its stone gate is one of a number of sites which together comprise the UNESCO World Heritage Site officially described as Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu, and has been designated an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese national government.

While the gates were once opened only for the king, today they are always closed, and so the gates have in a way become a sacred space themselves, representative of the actual sacred space behind them. Many travellers and locals come to pray at the gates.

The stone gate was first built in 1519, during the reign of Ryukyuan king Shō Shin, though the space had been recognized as a sacred utaki prior to that. Whenever the king left the castle on a journey, he would first stop at Sonohyan-utaki to pray for safe travels. The site also played an important role in the initiation of the High Priestess of the native religion.

The gate is said to be a prime example of traditional Okinawan architecture, and shows many signs of Chinese influence, along with a Japanese-influenced gable in the karahafu style. It was severely damaged in the 1945 battle of Okinawa, but was restored in 1957, and officially designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, along with a number of other sites acrossOkinawa Island. The utaki, i.e. the sacred grove itself, was once much larger than it is today, an elementary school and other buildings having encroached upon the space.
Sight description based on wikipedia

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of Naha, Japan within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Sonohyan-utaki on Map

Sight Name: Sonohyan-utaki
Sight Location: Naha, Japan
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) containing this sight: City Orientation Walk  

Walking Tours in Naha, Japan

Create Your Own Walk in Naha

Create Your Own Walk in Naha

Creating your own self-guided walk in Naha is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
City Orientation Walk

City Orientation Walk

Naha, the capital of Okinawa, although small a city, does contain a plethora of historic attractions. If you decide to visit Naha, make sure to explore the Shikina-en Garden, Tamaudun Mausoleum, but most importantly, the Shuri Castle, a restored royal residence of the Ryukyu Kingdom, flourished throughout the 15th-19th centuries and recognized as the birthplace of Okinawa karate. Take this...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 km
Sightseeing Tour in Naha

Sightseeing Tour in Naha

As the capital of Okinawa Prefecture and the main city on the island of Okinawa, Naha is a city with plenty to offer. This self-guided walking tour will take you to the most important attractions in the city, without which your visit to Naha wouldn't be complete. Sugar-Loaf Hill, Tsuboya Pottery Museum, just to name a few, are must sees while in Naha.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.9 km